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Coastal tourist hotspots in Wales should be teeming with people this Bank Holiday weekend. But instead, people are being told to avoid them because of sewage pollution. 

Surfers Against Sewage, a leading UK marine conservation campaign charity, monitors water quality at over 450 river and coastal locations so people can swim, surf or splash without the risk of becoming ill. This week, the campaigners issued alerts that more than 25 beaches in Wales have been polluted by storm sewage or given a poor water classification.

Some of Wales’ most popular tourist destinations, including Criccieth, Tenby, Colwyn Bay, and Swansea, have been deemed as unsafe due to sewage pollution.

The campaigners warned how storm sewage had been discharged from sewer overflows within the past 48 hours at many beaches. They informed how short-term pollution is caused when heavy rainfall washes faecal material into the sea from livestock, sewage and urban drainage via streams and rivers.

Posting a report of the alerts on X, environmental campaigner Feargal Sharkey, who is vice chair of River Action, mocked: “You weren’t expecting to go swimming this bank holiday weekend anyway were you?”

The alerts follow similar warnings in March, when people were told to avoid 83 beaches, because of raw sewage being dumped nearby. Surfers Against Sewage blamed polluters and poor waste management for the sewage discharges. The environmental activist group says that “the sheer volume of pollution entering our water means the UK consistently ranks as one of the worst European countries for coastal water quality.”

Almost all of Britain’s waterways are polluted. A House of Commons Committee report in 2022 on the state of UK rivers concluded that no river in England was free from chemical contamination. Only 14 percent of UK rivers had a “good” ecological status, the report found. Both the release of untreated sewage and agricultural runoff are considered the leading causes of river pollution in the UK. In 2021, untreated sewage was discharged into English waterways for more than 2.5 million hours.

In April, the shadow environment secretary Steve Reed argued that the Conservatives have irresponsibly positioned themselves against nature. Writing for the Guardian, the Labour MP said the Tories have “let water companies profit from filling our rivers with sewage and tried to weaken environmental laws on new housing developments that risked irreparable damage to our waterways.”

Reed confirmed that Labour has promised to fully commit to cleaning up Britain’s waterways by putting the water companies under special measures and making water bosses personally criminally liable if they refuse to stop illegal sewage dumping.

The post Bathers warned away from 25 beaches polluted by sewage in Wales appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.


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